In my journey on the spiritual path I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by a barrage of concepts competing for attention. Am I just trying to stay present? Should I focus on non-attachment? Nonresistance? Surrender? Letting go? Relaxing into the present?
Other times I question whether I’m meditating to my fullest capability. Yes, I do it every day, but could I be going deeper? Do I need to “try” harder even though, as I’ve written previously, meditation is about the art of trying, without trying too hard?
Churning about getting it “right”
All of this can be summed up as questioning whether I’m doing this spiritualthing “right.” And what I’ve come to realize recently is that there is a better way to view the macro spiritual journey.
I’ve whittled it down to just two simple things we need to do. The first is committing to the spiritual journey. What that often requires is some knowledge of what that path entails and some experience with it.
Why? Because why would anybody embark on a journey if they didn’t have some reason to believe that the benefit of those travels would be significant?
Learning enough to want to make the journey
So we listen to the talks of Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, Mickey Singer and a host of other spiritual luminaries. Read some of the seminal books like Be Here Now. We start a meditation and mindfulness practice.
By doing so we get a taste of the profound good that comes with traveling this path. Once we reach that beginning level it becomes necessary to commit ourselves to doing the daily work going forward. For how long? For the rest of our lives.
Practice, practice, practice
Once we’ve made that commitment, the second and ONLY thing you need to do for the rest of your days is PRACTICE; i.e., do the work. That’s it. Commit, then practice. That’s all you need to keep in your head on an ongoing basis.
That practice, or chopping wood and carrying water as Ram Dass called it, takes different forms for different people. Regular meditation is an invaluable piece of any spiritual practice so I highly recommend that. Some people do hatha (physical) yoga, others do mantra chanting and all kinds of other spiritual practices.
Whatever the practices, their purpose is to facilitate the same process: Quieting our egoic, thought factory minds so that we can become the true, conscious beings we all are…underneath the chatter.
The point is, that’s all you have to do: Practice. And sometimes you’ll hit brick walls and feel lost in your meditation or mindfulness work. It doesn’t matter. You just keep practicing. That’s all you need to do.
Do you see how this simplifies things? Once you’ve committed, the only word you need to remember is practice.
Practice involves struggle, and that’s okay
Sure, there will be times when you wonder about and struggle with all the things I mentioned at the top — non-attachment, nonresistance, meditation technique, etc.; that’s okay, you just work through it. It’s part of practicing.
It’s a continuous, gradual, incremental process producing gains and advances that don’t normally slap us in the face with miraculous epiphanies.
“Oh my God, I just felt an earth-shattering shift in my consciousness! YES!!!”
Those occurrences are rare.
It’s not like, for instance, lifting weights where, a week into your program you can actually see and feel that your biceps are buffing up.
“Hey, I feel calmer now.”
Progress on the spiritual path is far more intangible and ineffable. After a while we just notice that we feel a bit calmer. Less irritated. More patient. And hopefully more compassionate, the ultimate benefit this work bestows on the universe.
Why do I mention all this about progress on the path and how it manifests? Because it fortifies the notion that all we need to do is practice. And the growth will come, on its own mysterious and intangible terms.
So practice. And keep going. There’s nothing else to think about or ponder or wrestle with.
Just keep practicing.
Commit, then practice. That’s all you have to do. Keep those two at the forefront and you’ll eliminate a ton of second-guessing, confusion and overwhelm.